Celtics delighted as Stiemsma shows his tough side

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Celtics delighted as Stiemsma shows his tough side

LOS ANGELES Greg Stiemsma is a pretty likable guy in Celtics Nation and with his teammates, seemingly always walking around with a happy-go-lucky demeanor.
But as folks saw in Monday's 94-85 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, Stiemsma can have a bit of an attitude, when needed.
On more than one occasion, he had a bit of verbal jousting with Clippers all-star Blake Griffin.
Both were given technical fouls, which spoke to some degree about how the soft-spoken 7-footer was not about to let Griffin push him around.
"You have to have flashes of it," Stiemsma said. "You can't play mad all the time, but I'm not going to back down from anybody, either. I don't care what position or situation they're in. So if I can come in and play physical, take a shot to the mouth, a couple shots to the head, if it'll help us win I'll do it."
Griffin might have had added motivation to go at Stiemsma harder than most young players. For a fleeting moment during the 2009 NBA Summer League, Stiemsma, then with the Memphis Grizzlies summer league team, was facing Griffin and the Clippers' summer league team.
Early in that summer league game, Stiemsma blocked a Griffin shot. And moments later, Stiemsma completed a 3-point play after he ran the floor and scored while being fouled.
When asked if he thought what happened in 2009 was a factor in how chirpy things were on Monday, Stiemsma said, "Maybe for him. I didn't have any hard feelings coming in."
After the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers joked about how that was the "mean Stiemsma" we saw.
"It was great to see that," Rivers said. "He got the blocked shot. We gonna have to work on his trash talk a little bit. But it was good to see."
And timely.
With Chris Wilcox out indefinitely while undergoing additional tests involving his heart, and Jermaine O'Neal still contemplating retirement, every night is an all-hands-on-deck kind of night."We're small," said Rivers. "That's who we are right now. We just have to be a grind-it-out basketball team. All of our games are going to be tough."
And it appears as though Stiemsma is indeed up for the challenge even if things get a little testy
"You gotta have some of toughness in you to make this team," said C's forward Kevin Garnett. "Not only that, but to be in this league and sustain it. He's not a pushover; he's quiet. He had to be a man (against the Clippers on Sunday), and be tough. He did a good job of that."
So good that he received a technical foul, his second of the season. The first one, against New Orleans, was rescinded. Even though he does have a guaranteed contract that pays him more than 700,000 this season, 2,000 (the cost of the technical foul) hits him a little in the pocketbook.
"I'm hoping somebody will chip in for the fine," Stiemsma said. "We'll see. It's part of the game."

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics put on defensive clinic in second half

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics put on defensive clinic in second half

This season the Boston Celtics have shown flashes for a few minutes here and there that they were an elite team defensively. 
 
But what they did in the second half to the Orlando?
 
Boston (13-9) put on a defensive clinic that overwhelmed the Magic on every level imaginable as the Celtics cruised to a 117-87 thumping of Orlando.
 
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has been even-keeled when it comes to discussing his team’s play, win or lose. 
 
But even he couldn’t contain how pleased he was to see the way his players defended in the third and fourth quarters. 
 
“On defense, the second half was as good as we’ve guarded all year,” Stevens told reporters afterwards. “Really focused, really urgent. I felt good about that.”
 
Setting the tone for the Celtics was Avery Bradley who certainly was impressive with his scoring. 
 
But as much as he knew the team would need a boost offensively with Isaiah Thomas (right groin) out, that wasn’t his approach to the game. 
 
“I had a defensive mindset coming into tonight’s game,” Bradley told CSN’s Abby Chin following the win. “Just trying to get my teammates to playing the right way so we could come out and get the ‘W’ tonight. I’m happy with how all the guys played. We all played hard, and we played as a team.”
 
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Wednesday night’s game.
 

STARS
 
Avery Bradley

Bradley picked up the scoring with Isaiah Thomas (right groin) out for Wednesday, leading the team with a game-high 23 points to go with four rebounds and three assists.
 
 
STUDS

Jaylen Brown

Arguably the biggest spark off the bench for Boston, Brown had one of his best games as a Celtic. He finished with 13 points which included a dunk over Nikola Vucevic that quieted the Amway Center crowd and just as important, provided a nice energy boost for Boston.
 
D.J. Augustin

He had the hot hand at the end of the second quarter, but was a non-factor in the second half as Augustin finished with 15 points – all of which came in the first half. 
 
Terry Rozier

This was a great confidence-booster for Rozier as well as his teammates to see him have a big game and make the most of his increased opportunity to play. He finished with a career-high 16 points off the Celtics bench on 6-for-13 shooting with five rebounds.
 
Nikola Vucevic

It doesn’t matter if he starts or comes off the bench. Vucevic is always a double-double threat on the floor. He finished with 12 points off the bench along with 10 rebounds for his 13th double-double this season. 
 

DUDS
 
Orlando second half defense

The Celtics got pretty much whatever they wanted, when they wanted it in the second half against the Magic defense which pulled a major disappearing act. Boston shot 61 percent from the field in the second half, and 45.4 percent from 3-point range. 
 

Belichick on Long's sack: One of the best defensive plays of the year

Belichick on Long's sack: One of the best defensive plays of the year

It came against a rookie quarterback. It came against an offense that averages a league-worst 15.0 points per game. It came against an offense that has fewer yards than any other. 

Still there are signs that Bill Belichick is pretty pleased with where his defense is after beating the Rams 26-10 on Sunday. One came on Wednesday when Patriots.com published its "Belichick Breakdown" for a closer look at a handful of plays from the team's most recent win.

Belichick called his team's third-and-eight stop with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter "probably one of the best good, team defensive plays we've had all year."

The Patriots show a five-man front, but linebacker Kyle Van Noy feigns a rush only to drop into coverage.

"Van Noy in here does a good job on the rush," Belichick said, "and also on the coverage on the back. Just good team defense. Good pass coverage down the field. The quarterback really doesn't end up having a lot of time, but there's no one to throw it to right away."

Belichick noted that all four rushers -- Chris Long, Trey Flowers, Dont'a Hightower and Rob Ninkovich -- all are able to pressure Jared Goff on the play. Combined with strong coverage in the secondary, the Rams nver really had a chance.

Belichick said it looked like a "tidal wave" of defenders bearing down on the quarterback.

"Long wins here . . . on the inside spin," Belichick said, "and Trey Flowers and Hightower both win on the little twist game inside. Then that's Rob with good speed-to-power on [Rams tackle Rob] Havenstein on the outside. Four good rushers. Plus a fifth guy...Van Noy getting that two-for-one on the guard and the back.

"Good team defense. That's great to see. A lot of hard work an execution on the practice field to make that happen."